Monday, March 9, 2020

Sarge's Advice: Target 20 Saves

Another question from an observant reader, this time regarding the Target 20 core rule for saving throws.



Quick query on Target 20 for saves -- for OD&D and B/X, as you know, different classes have different saves. Target 20, if I am reading it correctly, basically flattens everyone to the same chance, with the mods varying only by save type and NOT class. Is that correct? 

It's true that with Target 20, the way I run games, there's no distinction between classes for the saving throws. (Occasionally old-school players first realize that when they see there are no save records on the character sheets.)

One thing I've observed in the past is that the seeming class-distinction between saves in OD&D is at least partly illusory; the classes have different rates of increase (every 3 levels for fighters, 4 for clerics, 5 for magic-users), but on average the saves are about the same regardless. Like, just picking a level off the top of my head: at 8th level the save vs. spells are all an identical score of 12. (Which happens to be 20 - 8.) I made a post about that a while back:

https://deltasdnd.blogspot.com/2009/09/od-saving-throw-charts.html

In the charts there you can see that the average/regression lines for saves vs. Spells & Stone are almost indistinguishable between the different classes. In Death & Wand saves fighters do have about a 2-point advantage on average (with Breath sort of in the middle). So in early versions of OED I was giving wizards/thieves a -2 modifier on those latter saves as the best recreation -- but that always felt mean/stingy in play, so I wound up dropping it for simplicity.

At an extremely high level (16+), magic-users in OD&D do advance their save vs. spells to a point beyond the other classes -- but play at that level seems very rare, so to date it doesn't seem like a good distinction to make a separate rule for.


1 comment:

  1. I subscribe to the principle of giving some classes an advantage on certain saves, but as I wrote my own replacement versions of the four core classes, I wound up using modifiers to base save rolls. This is partly because I'm trying to write about saves in a modular, dice-neutral approach, assuming that GMs might use my table, Target 20, roll under attribute, or some custom system, so something like "Magicians get a bonus when rolling to Save against Magic Spell or Petrification attacks" can be translated into any system.

    I realize this will make some class/level combinations not quite match the actual saves in OD&D, but I've decided I'm fine with that.

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